A new report suggests that the main players in the sector are continuing to work on ways to prevent the government from stepping in again.
In March, around 7 weeks before the government pulled out the hammer, a total of six social gaming companies (GREE, DeNA, Mixi, NHN, CyberAgent, and Dwango) formed a council to regulate the industry “from within”.
One month later, that council introduced a number of measures to self-regulate the sector.
(Around the same time, GREE in particular announced measures on its own, for example automatic emails that warn users who pay for virtual items or an external advisory board. As I pointed out back then, these self-regulating measures – both from the companies themselves and the council – NEVER even mentioned the word “gacha”, suggesting that the industry knew the government would regulate the mechanism no matter what.)
Now The Nikkei is reporting that the council will announce “new rules for how their games are marketed” this week. The paper has learned that the six companies have been holding “working-level meetings” to discuss the rules on a daily basis since the beginning of the month.
Perhaps more importantly, the companies are planning to set up a trade organization that is supposed to “unite” the Japanese social gaming industry and give it a voice (in other words, to make it easier to do lobby work).
Even though Japan’s social gaming sector is a multi-billion dollar market, there is no such organization at this point, mainly because of the highly competitive nature in the industry. DeNA publicly singled out GREE with regard to this matter, saying their arch enemy wasn’t ready cooperate until now due to legal disputes between the two companies.
Given the massive waves of regulatory measures (forced and “voluntary”), hostile media reports on- and (more dangerously) offline, and structural shifts (internationalization, transition to smartphones, emergence of alternative platforms, etc.), the industry needs to pull it together more than ever.